Docker Advances Container Platform for the Multicloud World

At DockerCon 18, Docker Inc. announces technology previews for multicloud federation capabilities and a new template-based graphical user interface for developers on the desktop.

DockerCon 18

SAN FRANCISCO—DockerCon 18 kicked off here on June 13 with Docker Inc. making a series of announcements that aim to further advance container adoption by enterprises.

Docker announced it is enhancing its flagship Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) with a new federated application management capability that enables enterprises to manage and deploy containers across a multicloud infrastructure. The company is also improving its Docker Desktop application for developers with new template-based workflows for building container applications.

"Federated application management shows how Docker Enterprise Edition can be used to provide a consistent, uniform secure environment across which you could manage applications on multiple clusters, whether they're on premises or in the cloud," Docker Chief Product Officer Scott Johnston told eWEEK.

The federated application management capability is a technology preview that Docker is demonstrating at DockerCon that will become generally available in a Docker EE update later this year. The last major Docker EE milestone was version 2.0, which was announced on April 17, bringing Kubernetes container orchestration to Docker's platform.

How It Works

Each of the different cloud platforms has its own separate tooling, security models and workflows, Johnston said. What that means for container deployments is that they can often become siloed, which is what the federated application management capability is aiming to avoid.

Organizations that want to federate across multiple clouds, including those that are running Docker as well as those that run cloud provider based Kubernetes services, will need to run a component called Docker Trusted Registry (DTR) as an agent.   

Johnston explained that organizations push their updated Docker container to DTR, which then provides the security authentication and cryptographic signing of images. Those images can then be automatically promoted out to production data centers and cloud providers. DTR enables a common layer for image management and control across a multicloud deployment, he added.

The Docker federated approach also works with the native security policies of a given cloud provider. 

"What we do is we plug into the cloud policies at cloud providers to drive them natively," Johnston said. "So, for example, we're driving the native Amazon security policies, but we're not exposing users; we're abstracting that out, making it easier to use and manage for a multicloud deployment."

Docker Desktop

The Docker Desktop developer tools, which include Docker for Mac and Docker for Windows, are also getting a boost with a new technology preview. Docker Desktop enables developers to easily run Docker and Kubernetes on a notebook computer to build, test and run container applications.

Johnston said that while many developers are comfortable with the command line, there are many more who are not. To that end, Docker Desktop is now previewing template-based workflows that provide a drag-and-drop graphical user interface for getting started with application development templates.

This isn't the first time Docker has had some form of graphical tool to help users get started with containers. In 2015, Docker acquired Kitematic, technology that enables users to select applications from the Docker Hub image repository and then easily deploy them. Docker learned from the Kitematic experience, and the learning is reflected in the new template system for Docker Desktop, Johnston said.


With the integrated support for Kubernetes, Docker now finds itself in more direct competition with Kubernetes distribution vendors. Johnston noted, however, that there are only two other vendors Docker sees in competitive situations, Red Hat's OpenShift and Pivotal Container Service (PKS).

Overall, Johnston said the macro trend is that the widespread adoption of containers is what is driving the need for the multicloud federation capabilities.

"For us, it's an indication that we're hitting the hockey stick of the adoption curve right now," he said. "Most organizations are not wondering anymore why they should use containers or what containers are. Organizations now are saying they're important and are figuring out how to scale adoption throughout their IT environments."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.